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In an exclusive interview with Joe McStravick, managing director of international for BlueJeans by Verizon, he explains why the future of work is hybrid and how digital platforms are driving a new era with virtual, remote and hybrid events.

Can you give us some insights into your product roadmap?

Engagement in today’s hybrid workplace is so important — especially in this next phase with more people going back into the office. But the truth is, virtual events and meetings aren’t going away.

You could say we are in the perfect storm of transformation of hybrid work. Organizations rushed to deploy collaboration tools during the pandemic, and now organizations are evaluating the engagement of said tools.

How many times have you heard about “video fatigue” over the past few years? Or feelings of isolation and team disconnect? The challenge has now become a matter of: how do you make sure there’s an equally engaging experience for those in person and those attending virtually. And how do you make sure creating these experiences is simple, polished and open for everyone to take advantage of?

During the pandemic, a range of features was added to collaboration solutions to help make meetings more user-friendly for virtual attendees. But those don’t necessarily translate across a hybrid experience, especially when it comes to large-scale events.  

At BlueJeans, we’re focused on creating a hybrid work environment that is inclusive for all; one that delivers immersive, TV-production-grade experiences that drive audience engagement and interactivity. 

Our platform is designed with inclusivity in mind, where any team — large or small — can extend its brand and message to its peers, employees and fans in a way that promotes engagement.

This is why we’ve launched BlueJeans Studio and BlueJeans Expo in 2022 and will continually look to improve these offerings and our Events platform through customer feedback and co-innovation.

Studio equals the playing field for any organization or content creator to design professional and engaging videos and livestreams with TV production quality tools in the hands of the user.

Expo combines live and on-demand video, event management and content hosting into one powerful yet easy-to-manage platform. 

From individual creators to enterprise marketers and everyone in between, there’s a real need for these solutions, and we’re excited about the projects our customers are looking to deliver through BlueJeans, both now and in the future.

What kinds of features and benefits will you bring to your customers over the coming 12 months?

Video has become a fundamental part of the enterprise. And while the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations around the world to quickly pivot to a virtual environment, now business leaders are taking a step back to reevaluate their overall communication strategies and supporting technologies to determine the best path forward.

The key to creating a collaborative workplace in today’s environment is to ensure a seamless experience for employees across devices and work modes. The same must also be true for how customers and audiences consume your content.

With the combined strength of BlueJeans and Verizon’s 5G network, we’re making the hybrid work experience one that’s immersive, inclusive and engaging.

It’s all about connectivity and mobility. This is the benefit that Verizon and BlueJeans bring to customers. And we look forward to showing you more of what’s to come soon. 

What trends are you seeing in the market currently?

Creating a sense of inclusion and equity for all workers, regardless of what work mode they’ve chosen — hybrid, remote/field, home or office. This is something that will be especially important as more workers start heading back into the office.

Employees expect a level of connectivity and experience parity, no matter where they are working from. This means being browser-agnostic, having mobile experiences on par with desktop experiences, being able to quickly and seamlessly switch between modalities and more.

A key part of our platform is interoperability, which gives us a leg up when it comes to designing and partnering with technologies that can help bridge the digital divide.

Furthermore, as I’ve said, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay. There’s no doubting their value in terms of cost savings, audience reach and scale, especially when it comes to reaching large, distributed audiences.

And while the COVID-19 pandemic gave a major boost to the creative economy, not all creators and brands have the resources and tools necessary to compete in today’s crowded marketplace.

BlueJeans Events already leads the virtual event industry with the ability to host up to 150,000 worldwide interactive event participants and multi-language support for over 70 languages. Now, with the addition of Studio, users can easily create TV production-level events that engage and wow audiences while helping to elevate their brand and expand their reach.

I anticipate we’ll continue to see more innovation in the market focused on making event production and livestreaming more polished and easy-to-use for all.

What tips do you have for managing challenges with hybrid work?

What I would say is that one size doesn’t fit all, which is a good thing. The culture of an organization is extremely important in helping to facilitate different work models and expectations for employees. Verizon has done a particularly good job with this through the company’s Work Forward program, which provides guidelines and allows flexibility in how we work.

Personally, I am a strong believer in personal equity and setting boundaries you’re comfortable with. There are always going to be instances where meeting someone in person is ideal. The connection and trust that can be built in person is powerful. From there, you can better leverage the digital tools at your disposal to stay connected.

Regardless of how you meet, spending time getting to know your employees and peers is so important. Making a connection with an individual really can make all the difference.

Ultimately, emphasizing culture and leading with kindness will enable choice and drive change.

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